With a phenomenal leading heroine, BRAVE is a wonderful story about strength, courage and family. But watching BRAVE in a theater full of filthy, snot-nosed children (clearly my wife and I don’t have kids), brought upon a magic to the film that I might have otherwise been unappreciative to. At the most unsuspecting moments, like when a grown man would speak like a woman in his thick Scottish accent or a kiltless backside would innocently flash across the screen, rows of children’s laughter would infectiously fill the theater.
Young Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is the oldest daughter in her father’s kingdom. With aspirations of being a bow marksman …err markswoman, her archery skills are unmatched. Unfortunately, Merida must suffer through her mother’s constant berating for her to be a proper respectable princess in preparation for her arranged marriage. The three neighboring clans’ first borns will compete in archery games to win Merida’s hand in wedlock. But when Merida has no desire to be married, she takes off with her trusty horse and curly red locks flowing in the wind. Following magical glowing orbs called wisps, she happens upon a peculiar wood-carving witch. Asking the witch for a spell that has beastly consequences, Merida’s actions not only disrupt the tradition of their lands with possible war repercussions but also causes a riff in the bond between her and her mother.
Not quite as adventurous as the the marketing would have you believe, BRAVE keeps the story more family oriented, directing most of the attention toward the relationship between the mother and daughter. The best thing about BRAVE is the use of such a strong female lead character. Last year provided films with a strong woman cast including THE HELP and BRIDESMAIDS. It is nice to see this trend continue, spilling into films for a younger generation that can look up to someone worth imitating. This past April gave us an excellent Y- chromosome lead in Katniss Everdeen from THE HUNGER GAMES and now BRAVE has provided another arrow wielding Miss Independent, giving the men a backseat for a change. In fact, most of the male figures in the film think with their physical strength and stomachs, providing more of the comic relief. Specifically, Merida’s three rascally little brothers known simply as “the triplets” are quite delightful in their old school Daffy Duck mischievousness.
Definitely coming a long way since the Disney days of flat animation, Pixar’s BRAVE is vibrant and alive. The film moves over different terrain and characters, discovering every feature and personality for each object and living creature. Visually the film is quite striking and active. At times the film strays from the adult appeal with silly child-like slapstick. But other than becoming somewhat too cartoony, I really don’t have much of a complaint. After all, it is a children’s film.
While it may not be my personal favorite Pixar film, BRAVE does prove that they are back on top above all other animation. They can’t all be TOY STORY, WALL-E, THE INCREDIBLES or MONSTER’S INC. but as you can see by the long list, I won’t object if other’s might consider it to be in the debate. Thematically, BRAVE tells a lesson-filled story about being an individual while still being unselfish and respectful toward one’s parents. Children will love it and parents will be happy to sit through it over and over again. Entertaining with a positive story, Brave is a fun choice for all ages.